SportsMonday Column: You won't forget this one

BY NATE SANDALS
Daily Sports Editor
Published September 28, 2008

Cherish what happened on Saturday. Cherish that game, that atmosphere, that comeback.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you’re from or how much you care about Michigan football — what happened Saturday afternoon will go down as one of your most memorable college experiences.

Games like this are rare, so don’t let this past weekend blend in with other fall Saturdays, a blurry set of images from average games whose scores you will never remember.

This comeback win against Wisconsin deserves more than its own Facebook album. It's something special.

During the last five minutes, even though I was on the field and just feet from the action, I found myself focusing far more on the student section than the game. I wanted to soak in as much of the atmosphere as I could.

The truth is, I was jealous.

Don’t get me wrong, covering the football team is awesome, but my memories of Saturday won’t be the same as yours.

You’ll always remember the friends you stood with, cheered with and celebrated with while you watched the biggest comeback in Michigan Stadium history.

You’ll always remember that sense of validation you felt by sticking it out through the whole game, even though the first half was one of the most disgusting displays of football ever seen in the Big House. (Two of my housemates left at the half, and let's just say they'll be taking heat for a long time).

You’ll always remember screaming "The Victors" with the rest of the student section, the entire team crowded on the field in front of you, belting it out at the same time.

What you experienced on Saturday is what makes this university special. No matter how different we all are, where we've come from and where we're going, now we have this shared experience. I guarantee you and your friends will still be talking about that game — about that day — five, 10, even 20 years from now.

You were part of the loudest crowd I’ve ever heard at Michigan Stadium, (though the noise after the last-second win over Penn State in 2005 was up there, too). You actually had an impact on the game. Every player and coach said the crowd support was a huge boost.

Michigan students take a lot of heat for being too quiet, not committed enough and generally disinterested during football games. And it’s true that often the student section doesn’t stack up against its peers at Penn State, Ohio State and just about every school in the SEC.

But on Saturday, things were different. The Wolverines were 1-2 and unranked, but everyone still showed up and got loud when the time came. No one can say this student body doesn't care about Michigan football.

Classes that recently graduated will remember the 2005 win over Penn State and the 2004 triple-overtime victory over Michigan State among their fondest college memories.

Going back a little further, many alums reminisce about being in the Big House for the Ohio State game in 1997, when Charles Woodson took over and by the end of the day, every Michigan player was holding a rose and the team was headed for a National Championship.

Even a game from Bo's first season, the upset win over Ohio State in 1969, lives on because everyone who was at the Big House that day can't stop talking about.

Well, now we have our game.

— Sandals admits that he was planning a winter-break trip during halftime, assuming Michigan would not reach a bowl game this year. Those plans are on hold. He can be reached at nsandals@umich.edu.